NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding

NY and NJ lawmakers press Ryan on Gateway project funding
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey met with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday to emphasize the importance of a multibillion-dollar rail project the Trump administration has backed away from in recent months.

Rep. Leonard LanceLeonard LanceGun debate to shape 2020 races GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Bottom Line MORE (R-N.J.) said he asked for the meeting, which comes as a vote on the upcoming omnibus spending bill appears to move to next week. Reps. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingHere are the Democrats who aren't co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill Obama's tan suit controversy hits 5-year anniversary MORE (R-N.Y.), Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinBolton returns to political group after exiting administration Lobbying World New York Times editor deletes and apologizes for past 'offensive' tweets MORE (R-N.Y.), Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithHouse approves Democrat-backed bill ending mandatory arbitration US meddling in Hong Kong could trigger a tragedy Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey MORE (R-N.J.), Tom MacArthurThomas (Tom) Charles MacArthurRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-N.J.), Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-N.J.) and John FasoJohn James FasoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority MORE (R-N.Y.) also participated.

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“The president has indicated that he might veto it,” Lance told reporters. “But Paul Ryan has no problem with Gateway funding.”

The Gateway project, a series of rail programs aimed at rebuilding passenger rail connection under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, has been a sticking point in ongoing negotiations over the spending bill ahead of a March 23 deadline.

The White House last week threatened to veto the legislation if it includes $900 million in funding for the project. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation said it opposes financing Gateway in the impending omnibus, but does not have an issue with the project itself.

Lance told The Hill that it's "unclear" why the president is opposed to funding the project in the omnibus, but said he believes it's part of a "dispute" between Trump and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerToomey on gun reform: 'Beto O'Rourke is not helping' Schumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey MORE (D-N.Y.).

"I think Sen. Schumer should move on some of the appointments the president has made to fill his own administration,” Lance said.

He also argued that a spending bill stripped of Gateway funding won't pass the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-seat majority but will need 60 votes to pass the omnibus.

New York and New Jersey lawmakers have pressed Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? House committee launches investigation into Transportation Secretary Chao MORE over the project this month as she appears in front of multiple congressional committees to testify about the Trump administration’s infrastructure proposal.

Chao argues New York and New Jersey should put up more money for the project, which the states hope to fund using government loans like Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF). 

Schumer, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSeven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa Iowa GOP swipes at 2020 Democrats' meat positions as candidates attend annual Steak Fry Booker aide sounds alarm about campaign's funding MORE (D-N.J.), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in 2015 announced they had reached a deal with the Obama administration in which the federal government would fund half of the project.

But the Trump administration in recent months has taken a different approach, with the Federal Transit Administration denying the presence of an agreement for the federal government to split the cost with the two states. The Transportation Department also withdrew from the program’s board last summer.

Despite the Trump administration’s pushback on the project's funding, Lance said he “hope[s] and expect[s] that it continues to be in the bill." 

“This was not a meeting with the White House. This was a meeting where we explained our position to Speaker Ryan,” Lance said.